[the little business that could] Gabbie’s Goodies brings back the bon bon

Travis and Sabrina Key live in an ordinary house on an ordinary street in Hanover, MA. The organic, preservative-free, so-freakin'-delicious-you-could-easily-eat-a-box-in-under-an-hour bon bons being carefully dipped and decorated in their basement kitchen are anything but.

The husband-wife team behind Gabbie's Goodies have officially been in business one year this month. When I met them at this year's Boston Wine Expo, they were surrounded by groaning members of the media and vendors, mouths stuffed with chocolate and melt-in-your-mouth nut butter.

"I've been making peanut butter bon bons for 15 years, but the business part is totally new for us," Sabrina Key says over the whir of a chocolate tempering machine, as she shows me a fresh batch of batter. "My mom made them for as long as I can remember. I would always make them for Christmas, and every year people would tell me I should sell them. So finally, last year, I said to Travis, ‘Why not? Let's get a business license.'"

The duo began brainstorming new flavors--starting with pistachio cardamom, a comforting combination of warming spice and earthy nuttiness. Travis, a devotee of butter pecan ice cream, dreamed up their smooth and crackly butter pecan flavor, dipped in white chocolate. Organic cashew with cinnamon, dipped in dark chocolate and topped with cayenne pepper, is another favorite of theirs.

Travis, a stay-at-home dad, was initially hesitant to get in on the action. Once he joined in on the process, however, it came naturally; no training, no classes.

"She's been making them for years," says Travis, placing a just-scooped mound of bon bon on a sheet of foil. "So just by watching what she does, I was able to pick it up."

"Once you kind of understand the ingredient ratios, you just start creating," she adds, nodding. "I'm working on dairy free at the moment, and people ask for nut free ones, which we don't really do yet, but I'm experimenting."

The rise of on-the-side homemade artisanal goods is nothing new. A recent issue of The New York Times Magazine explored the resurgence of mom-and-pop style products from an economical standpoint. While the Keys aren't tempering chocolate to pay the rent, their "craft" approach to their product is something that very much appeals to the locavore (organic, gluten-free, you name it) shopper.

Not satisfied with store-bought nut butters, Sabrina, the full-time vice president of Environmental Health Services, Inc., began grinding her own in her spare time. The process is demanding, but the duo has the routine down--he molds, she dips and garnishes-- to a machine-like efficiency. Well, almost machine-like.

"I dip each one by hand, and it takes a good long time," Sabrina says, scraping away excess chocolate. "They have to be beautiful, so that part alone usually ends up taking a few hours."

People tell me that the next step is farming it out, but I really have a hard time imagining myself doing that," she continues. "If this is going to take off, it's going to be because there's a lot of personal care put into them."

It's not just the Boston area that can't get enough of the bonbons--Gabbie's Goodies ships to Phoenix, Seattle, and as Sabrina tells me, their number one customer lives in Baltimore. After her neice, Food Network Star: Season 6 winner Aarti Sequeira, mentioned the Hanover bon bons on her Facebook wall, requests came flooding in from all over the country.

"It was so cool to see that happen," she laughs. "Especially in this economy, you have to be creative. It's a unique product, and there's not many on the market."

And what about the company's namesake, Gabbie? 

"She's sick of us talking about it," Sabrina says, and Travis chuckles to himself. "She's 15, so she's not exactly into it. Both of our children like to eat them, but you know what would be really neat? If someday, she kind of carries the torch."

Later, Gabbie shakes her head. "No way," she says, settling in between her parents behind the counter and smiling. "I just like eating them."

Order Gabbie's Goodies online at For more information, call 508.369.0214.








| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Phlog Archives